The International Criminal Court said Friday it has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin war crimes due to his alleged involvement in kidnapping of children from Ukraine.
The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of the unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of the unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
It also issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar charges.
The ICC said its pre-trial chamber ruled there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each accused bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation , in prejudice of Ukrainian children.”
Over the course of the past year, the prosecutor’s office – as well as the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office – has collected evidence from a variety of countries and individual sources. Pamela Falk of CBS News reported Earlier this week, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan was preparing to issue arrest warrants for those involved in the alleged kidnapping of Ukrainian children and attacking civilian infrastructure.
Khan visited Ukraine for the fourth time earlier this month. “I leave Ukraine feeling that the momentum towards justice is accelerating,” he said in a statement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to the arrest warrants with a statement saying: “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view. Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. and bears no obligations under it.”
Lvova-Belova, accused of running the child transfer program, defended her conduct. “What I want to say is, first of all, it’s great that the international community appreciates the work we do to help our country’s children, that we don’t leave them in the war zone, that we get them out, that we create good conditions.” for them, surround them with loving, caring people,” she said.
An indictment of Putin would the president of Russia be one international refugeereported David Martin of CBS News.
“It is not easy for a head of state to fear arrest when he or she sets foot in a European country or in a North American country,” said Judge Richard Goldstone, the chief prosecutor of war crimes committed in Bosnia in the 1990s. .
Ambassador Beth Van Schaack, the State Department official responsible for collecting evidence that could help prove Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine, told Martin: “He is now inevitably trapped in Russia. He will never be internationally travel, because it would be too great a risk that he would be caught and brought before a court.”
The same goes for any other Russian accused of war crimes.
“They will enjoy some impunity as long as they stay in Russia,” Van Schaack said, “but what we’ve seen is that perpetrators don’t stay in their home country. They want to go shopping in Europe or go on vacation somewhere, and they get identified, and then law enforcement kicks in. And we’ve never been more integrated than we are now.”
Alex Whiting, a Harvard law professor who worked in the ICC’s prosecutor’s office, explained to CBS News: “Issuing warrants is the first step to accountability for war crimes – it indicates that there are evidence is that war crimes have been committed and that identified persons are responsible for them and those charged will forever be at risk of arrest or surrender, especially if they travel to one of the 123 member states of the court.”
President Biden has called Putin a “war criminal” and called him in stand trialbut the US is not part of the International Criminal Court, as it never ratified the treaty that established the institution.
CBS News has been investigating alleged torture And war crimes committed in Ukraine by Russian troops since the start of the invasion. In August CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay spoke to Ukrainian children who had been taken to Russian territory against their will, were subsequently rescued and returned to Ukraine.
A February report from the Humanitarian Research Lab at Yale’s School of Public Health, which was sponsored by the US State Department, concluded that “all levels of the Russian government are involved” in the transfer of children from Ukraine.
“We have identified at least 43 facilities in this network of camps, institutions that detain or have detained Ukrainian children. This network stretches from one end of Russia to the other,” said the laboratory’s director, Nathaniel Raymond. , at a briefing February 14.
“The primary purpose of the camps seems to be political re-education,” he said, but added that children from several camps were later “placed with Russian foster homes or some sort of adoption system.”
–Pamela Falk, David Martin and Camilla Schick reported.